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Harambee Stars Qualify For AFCON, Concerted Efforts Required

Harambee Stars Qualify For AFCON, Concerted Efforts Required

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BY HUSSEIN NIVA

Reports emanating from Accra, Ghana, revealed that the Confederation of African Football (CAF), during their recent Extraordinary Executive Committee meeting, confirmed the suspension of Sierra Leone from the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.

The news meant that Kenya, following a 14-year hiatus, returns to the continental stage after topping ‘Group F.’

The decision was arrived earlier than expected and as a consequence, Kenya can now reach for the bucket of ice and draw of the celebratory champagne – to toast to qualification, before hitting the ground running as they prepare for the next year’s tournament, in a country yet to be decided after CAF scrapped Cameroon off hosting rights.

According to the latest FIFA rakings, Kenya retained its position at 105, with 1,210 points in total. They were due to play over the international break, on 18th November. However, that 2019 AFCON qualifier against Sierra Leone was cancelled, owing to the West African nation’s football ban.

Having successfully negotiated their way through a tricky qualifying group, the country has a long road ahead in improving as a national team, so as to ensure success and better their group-stage elimination in 2002.

However, despite the general perception of mismanagement of football in Kenya, there are certain apparatuses that provide hope, as let on by the President of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF), Nick Mwendwa.

“We will continue to build the national team… We have U-13, U-15, U-17, U-20 and U-23 sides to feed the national team… Such infrastructure and systems need to be in place to ensure the development of talent… We have the likes of Victor Wanyama and Michael Olunga, but they are in their prime… Through grassroots engagement and proper systems, we can nurture talent in the right manner and allow they to progress through the ranks and into the national team,” he said.

Preparations for the continental tournament can now get underway. The country, through friendly matches and the tournament proper, can also improve on their ranking. As recently as 2017, Harambee Stars sat as high as 78th position globally. This was, however, 10 spots lower than their best ever ranking of 68th position, back in December 2008.

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